In July 2016, a scam promising a free “Luxury RV” to people who liked, shared, and commented on a Facebook began to circulate on the social network:
This fraudulent offer echoed similar scams promising free cars from BMW and millions of dollars from musician Eminem. These scams promise luxurious awards for the simple task of liking and sharing a page on Facebook, and since many users see this as a “low risk, high reward” situation, these pages often accomplish their goals of going viral. However, spreading these hoaxes actually has a detrimental effect on social media and can expose people to more fraudulent activity:
But why shouldn’t you click or share? Where’s the harm in it?
One reason is “like-farming.” Facebook’s algorithms in particular emphasize popular content, and therefore gathering “likes” and “shares” receives a high premium. Sometimes, it’s just an annoyance — maybe that kid really does want a hundred thousand “likes” so that a Victoria’s Secret model will go to a school dance with him, so he’s inundating people with appeals (although that’s doubtful at best) — but more often, the intent is scammy. Like-farmers will gather clicks, which denote popularity, then scrub the original content and replace it with something else (usually a scammy ad of some sort) to bypass Facebook constraints. Facebook has moved to quash this behavior by adjusting their algorithms, but of course, some scammers’ efforts always get by the online gatekeepers.
In addition to tell-tale signs of “Like Farming,” there are several other ways to tell that this “Luxury RV” page is a hoax. First, while this message purportedly comes from a business that has been operating for 50 years, their Facebook page was only established on 21 July 2016. Second, the Facebook page claims that it represents Major RV, a company based out of California, but lists its location as Eving, Germany. The lack of contact information on the Facebook page is also suspect:
Major RV caught wind of the scam and posted on their Facebook page to warn consumers the offer was fake:
So [we] were hacked by Luxury RV. There is no giveaway at Major RV in Hesperia, Ca sorry for the inconvenience.